Faculty and Staff
Drew Anderson- Assistant Professor
Courses Taught: Introduction to Our Atmosphere, Humans and the Environment, Movies, Media, and Entertainment from an Earth and Space Science Perspective, and First Year Experience
Meteorologist Drew Anderson has two research focuses: sustainability and science communication.
Drew travels around the world for his research in sustainability. He records on-location videos to show how some countries excel with sustainability and how others fall behind. While these videos give students a global perspective, they also help students connect to the rest of the world: the world doesn't feel so remote when it's on your screen.
In addition to media-focused learning, students learn through experience in his classes. Each semester, his students do a sustainability scavenger hunt on campus. When they arrive at a correct location, media unlocks on their smartphone through an augmented reality app. A short video, website, or interactive image will appear to explain how West Chester University does something sustainable right there.
Online, Drew has students step away from their computer to do hands-on experiments with household items. He says, “if you experience a scientific concept firsthand, it becomes so clear and so memorable."
What are the best ways to make science more clear and more memorable? That’s something Drew’s trying to figure out with his science communication research.
Drew likes to share his latest research with the academic community at seminars and conferences. Some of his latest talks have focused on how to excel at science presentations, sustainability communication, and online teaching.
You can also see Drew’s science and weather presentations on your own screen. Maybe you have seen Meteorologist Drew Anderson on ESPN or on your local news station doing the weather, anchoring, or reporting.
For nearly 15 years, viewers across Pennsylvania have trusted Drew for their local forecast. Watch Drew every week on FOX29 in Philadelphia.
Drew's work in meteorology has been recognized by Penn State when he graduated (awarded Laureate status) and when he taught for the University (awarded the 2017 teaching excellence award). He also has the prestigious Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal of approval from The American Meteorological Society, an award from AccuWeather, and is consistently nominated for Emmys.
West Chester University has also recognized Drew’s work in sustainability and media. The school awarded him a sustainability grant, and they added a course he created to their list of general education classes. The course, ESS 127, studies Earth and space science in movies, media, and entertainment.
Drew loves bringing his knowledge of the film industry to that class. He has acted in a Leonardo DiCaprio movie directed by Martin Scorsese, an Adam Sandler Netflix movie, a Tom Hanks movie, and a Bollywood movie.
And don't hesitate to ask Drew about what to do on your next trip. He has visited every state, every continent, and every Canadian province. Drew loves talking about travel and telling stories about his time as an expedition guide in Antarctica.
Meteorologist Drew Anderson looks forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Office: Merion Science Center 217
- Phone: (610) 436-2727
- Email: DAnderson@wcupa.edu
Howell Bosbyshell, Ph.D- Associate Professor, Department Chairperson
Howell Bosbyshell, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Introductory Geology, Field Geology, Geophysics, Structural Geology
Dr. Bosbyshell's research is concerned with the tectonic and thermal evolution of mountain belts, with an emphasis on developing a modern tectonic interpretation for the Central Appalachians. By combining detailed mapping with structural and petrographic analysis, he is developing an integrated thermal, baric, and kinematic record of orogenic evolution, building from the thin section through regional scales. An important component of this work is collaborative research to establish the absolute timing of deformation and metamorphism through in situ dating of monazite using the electron microprobe.
- Office: Merion Science Center 205
- Phone: (610) 436-2805
- Email: HBosbyshell@wcupa.edu
Richard Busch, Ph.D- Professor
Richard Busch, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Historical Geology, Introduction to Paleontology, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Science Education Methods for Elementary Teachers
Dr. Busch's scholarly work is integrated into all of the classes that he teachers. His geologic research focuses on methods and applications of event stratigraphy for understanding detailed spatial-temporal relationships in the geological record. He and his geology students are currently studying the growth, biostratigraphy, and new species of trilobites from Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian formations of the Appalachian Basin. They also study the event stratigraphy of Ordovician and Devonian formations (including the Marcellus Shale). This includes use of a Handheld X-ray Fluorescence (HHXRF) analyzer to correlate elemental chemistry with mineralogy and rock properties and use trace metals (e.g. V, Cr, Ni, and Mo) as proxies for total organic carbon (TOC) in mudrocks. Dr. Busch works with his science-education students and area schools to develop inquiry-oriented, standards-based pedagogical strategies and curriculum materials for the Pre-K and elementary grades. He is also Editor of AGI/NAGT Laboratory Manual in Physical Geology (the most widely-adopted introductory-geology lab manual in North America, now in its 9th edition), which is produced under the auspices of the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and National Association of Geology Teachers (NAGT) and published by Pearson/Prentice Hall.
- Office: Merion Science Center 235
- Phone: (610) 436-2716
- Email: RBusch@wcupa.edu
Marc Gagne, Ph.D- Professor, Assistant Chair
Marc Gagne, Ph.D, Professor
Courses Taught: Galaxies and Cosmology, Introduction to Astronomy, History of Astronomy, Remote Sensing
Dr. Gagné and his students study X-ray emission from stars, especially massive hot. Students in his research group analyze data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and perform 3D magneto-hydrodynamic simulations of the magnetized winds on these massive stars. With collaborators at Swarthmore College, Penn State, the University of Delaware, and the University of Notre Dame, their research seeks to understand the mechanisms which produce the x-rays seen from the most massive young stars. Dr. Gagné has written a textbook and lab activities in support of his course on Galaxies and Cosmology, and loves to present the latest discoveries on Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, the Big Bang and Exoplanets.
- Office: Merion Science Center 201
- Phone: (610) 436-3014
- Email: MGagne@wcupa.edu
Cynthia Hall, Ph.D- Adjunct Professor
Cynthia Hall, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Geochemistry, The Carbon Cycle
Dr. Hall has conducted research on marine nitrogen cycling, specifically examining the rates and pathways of denitrification, a reaction that removes biologically available nitrogen, on the continental shelf and salt marshes of Georgia. Currently, Dr. Hall is studying heavy metal contamination in Philadelphia soils. In particular, the element lead has found to be abundant in Philadelphia soils and because lead is a neurotoxin to humans, the research team is now investigating the source and fate of the lead to determine the rick for public health. The heavy metals will be measured using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer, which can detect trace metals in the ppm range in under 60 seconds. The handheld version allows samples to be analyzed in the field.
- Office: Merion Science Center 215
- Phone (610) 436-1003
- Email: CHall@wcupa.edu
Martin Helmke, Ph.D- Professor
Martin Helmke, PhD, PG
Courses Taught: Hydrogeology, Advanced Hydrogeology, Fundamentals of Soil, Geophysics, Engineering Geology, Introduction to Geology, Geology of National Parks, and The Science of Natural Disasters
Dr. Helmke is a hydrogeologist with over 30 years of experience as an educator and environmental consultant. He holds a PhD in Geology and Water Resources from Iowa State University and a BS in Geology/Environmental Science from Antioch University. His research specialty is groundwater and contaminant transport modeling in fractured rock and soils. Other areas of active research include sinkholes and subsidence, stormwater and wastewater management, drone-borne geophysics and remote sensing, and emergency response to natural disasters. Dr. Helmke has taught at academic institutions across the US, worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, and worked as a consultant at numerous environmental consulting firms. He is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists and currently serves on the Pennsylvania State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists.
- Office: Merion Science Center 211
- Phone: (610) 436-3565
- Email: MHelmke@wcupa.edu
Victoria Baeder Helmke- Adjunct Professor
Victoria Baeder Helmke
Courses Taught: Introductory Geology, Historical Geology, Introduction to Paleontology
Professor Helmke enjoys teaching Introductory Geology at West Chester University. She previously taught geology courses at SUNY Geneseo, University of Iowa, and George Mason University. Past research has included radiolarians and depositional environments of chert in Zimapan Mexico, and extinction and community change of Montastraea corals in Puerto Rico across the Oligocene Miocene boundary. She was also a research paleontologist and field guide at The Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming.
- Office: Merion Science Center 204
- Phone: (610) 738-0308
- Email: VHelmke@wcupa.edu
Joby Hilliker, Ph.D- Associate Professor
Joby Hilliker, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Introduction to Meteorology, Advanced Meteorology, Introduction to Our Atmosphere
While studying meteorology at Penn State, Dr. Hilliker was a part-time television meteorologist for "Weather World", a PBS daily weather program. Joby also worked as a weather forecaster at Accu-Weather, a writer for the weather page presented in The New York Times, and taught an introductory meteorology course at his alma mater. In 2003-2004, Joby moved to Cincinnati, OH, where he worked at Cinergy Corp., a Mid-West utility company, where he developed statistical algorithms, constructed short-term energy products, and communicated weather forecasts with energy traders. Dr. Hilliker has written several research articles relating to statistical weather forecasting. His Master's and Ph.D. work focused on constructing prototype forecast systems for use in the aviation industry. One such system outputted short-term probabilistic forecasts for fog dissipation at the San Francisco Airport, while a second system aided air-traffic controllers in short-term decision-making during thunderstorm events.
- Office: Merion Science Center 221
- Phone (610) 436-2213
- Email: JHilliker@wcupa.edu
Carl Jacobson, Ph.D- Honorary Professor
Carl Jacobson, Ph.D
Dr. Jacobson was a Professor of Geology at Iowa State University for 35 years. He retired in 2015 and moved to southeast Pennsylvania for family reasons. Through his position as Honorary Professor at West Chester University, he is continuing his research, which focuses on the tectonic evolution of western North America. Much of his work deals with the Pelona-Orocopia-Rand Schists of southern California and southwestern Arizona. These rocks are viewed as correlatives of the Franciscan subduction complex that were thrust beneath North American continental crust during low-angle subduction related to the Laramide orogeny. As such, they provide one of the best areas in the world to investigate processes within the deep levels of a zone of subduction erosion. Dr. Jacobson's studies of the Pelona and related Schists involve mapping, field-based structural analysis, petrography, Ar/Ar thermochronology, and U-Pb dating of zircon. Other research topics include understanding the evolution of the forearc basin in southern California during underplating of the Pelona and related schists, constraining the history of middle Cenozoic extensional faulting and late Cenozoic strike-slip faulting in southern California, using trace elements in zircon as a provenance indicator, and testing the Mojave-Sonora megashear concept in Sonora, Mexico.
- Office: Merion Science Center 234
- Phone: (610) 436-2727
- Email: CJacobson@wcupa.edu or email@example.com
Timothy Lutz, Ph.D- Professor (Retired)
Timothy Lutz, Ph.D
Dr. Lutz says, “My specialty is being a generalist.” As an undergraduate he designed and completed a major that combined geology, physics, history, philosophy, and archaeology. In graduate school he developed interests in models and statistics in geoscience. Throughout a 40-year career those broad interests led to published collaborative work on a diverse set of geoscience topics, including the formation and cooling of igneous and metamorphic rocks, the chemistry of the mineral tourmaline, the stability of supply of rare mineral resources, global patterns of tectonic plate boundaries, alignments of volcanoes and sinkholes, reversals of earth’s magnetic field, fractal patterns in fossil ammonite shells, and the way mill dams influence the evolution of streams. Since retiring from teaching in 2021 Dr. Lutz is studying how to interweave geoscience education, complexity theory and sustainability. A current project involves understanding how to better manage risks, especially flooding. If you have ideas for research that don’t stay inside disciplinary lines, he is interested to talk with you!
- Office: Merion Science Center 225
- Phone: (610) 436-3498
- Email: TLutz@wcupa.edu
James (Sandy) Maxwell- Adjunct Professor
James (Sandy) Maxwell
Courses Taught: Science Methods for Grades PK-4, Student Teaching Supervision
Sandy Maxwell's career has been rooted as an elementary teacher with his start at West Chester State College. His supervisor when he was student teaching was Ruby Jones whose name graces our WCU building. As a classroom teacher, he spent thirty years teaching third through fifth grades and four years teaching gifted students, including one year teaching gifted science classes for ten elementary schools. As an elementary teacher he has worked to integrate learning, promoting critical thinking and inquiry while helping students to make connections across disciplines. Through his constructivist approach to learning, he has specialized in designing unique science opportunities for PK-4 learners. He co-founded the Outdoor Experience environmental program which has been used as a model for a number of schools. Sandy Maxwell has been involved with a number of science initiatives involving nonprofit organizations in southeast Pennsylvania. The past twenty years Sandy Maxwell has been an adjunct faculty instructor teaching science methods courses and supporting student teachers. He was recognized by the College of Education as Outstanding Educator of Southeastern Pennsylvania in 1995. He continues to help PK-4 teachers to develop essential skills and understanding of the elementary classroom by utilizing science as a catalyst for the emotional engine for learning. Sandy is also a freelance watercolorist and illustrator.
- Office: Merion Science Center 232
- Phone: (610) 436-2240
- Email: JMaxwell@wcupa.edu
Daria Nikitina, Ph.D- Professor, Graduate Coordinator
Daria Nikitina, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Geomorphology, Coastal Geomorphology, Introduction to Oceanography, International Field Studies, Introductory Geology
Dr. Nikitina's research and teaching interests are related to Geomorphology, Coastal Geology, Holocene climate change and sea level fluctuations. She also leads a study abroad field course focused on the geology and environment of different places of interest. In the past Dr. Nikitina took students to explore the Peruvian Amazon and the Andes and the Russian Arctic. Dr. Nikitina’s background is in the systematic study of landforms and the earth surface processes that create and change them. Her current research interests include recent sea level changes along the Atlantic coast of the USA, Canada and the Russian Arctic. With a group of WCU students and collaborators, Dr. Nikitina studies the impact of rising sea levels and severe storms on the coastal systems of the Delaware Bay and New Jersey. She uses salt marsh sediments to reconstruct a geological record of past hurricane strikes along the coast. In the past she has conducted research on active volcanoes of Kamchatka and Kuril Islands. Dr. Nikitina engages undergraduate students in field research through course projects and internships.
- Office: Merion Science Center 228
- Phone: (610) 436-3103
- Email: DNikitina@wcupa.edu
Christopher Roemmele, Ph.D- Associate Professor
Christopher Roemmele, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Introductory Geology, Science Methods for the Early Grades, Science Methods for the Middle Grades, Geosciences and the Movies and Media
Christopher Roemmele received his PhD. from the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Department at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, focusing on geoscience education. His research focused on introductory geology students and the topics and activities initiate changes in their attitudes and conceptual understanding and develop their geologic worldviews. Dr. Roemmele develops and collaborates on new activities and scaffolds that promote active 3-dimensional learning and teaching and has published in NSTA's Science Teacher and Science Scope, and NESTA's The Earth Scientist. Since arriving at WCU, he has written an introductory geology textbook, and has created a growing series of instructional demonstration videos and virtual reality field trips. Dr. Roemmele taught high school and middle school science for 15 years in New Jersey, during which time he was President of the New Jersey Earth Science Teachers Association. Dr. Roemmele and colleagues in the Secondary Education Department received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Track 2 Division to start WISER - WCU Improving STEM Education Through Residency, a residency M.Ed. in STEM fields that will focus on retention through professional development, mentoring, and teacher leadership.
- Office: Merion Science Center 229
- Phone: (610) 436-2108
- Email: CRoemmele@wcupa.edu
Karen Schwarz, Ph.D- Professor
Karen Schwarz, Ph.D
Courses Taught: Other Worlds-Other Stars, Geology of the Solar System, Intermediate Astronomy, History of Astronomy
Dr. Schwarz studies interacting binary stars, specifically classical nova explosions. She uses observations and computer models to determine the elemental abundances produced in these explosions. It is thought that novae may be responsible for some of the isotopic anomalies seen in meteoritic inclusions in our solar system and may also contribute significantly to the abundance of some isotopes of aluminum and sodium seen distributed throughout the galaxy. Dr. Schwarz is very active in informal education and public outreach. She is the Director of the West Chester University Planetarium. The planetarium provides shows to private groups such as school groups, moms clubs, scout troops, and retirement homes. There are also programs open to the general public. Dr. Schwarz is also the director of Project ASTRO WCU - a program designed to improve astronomy education in the K-12 classroom by pairing up teachers with professional and amateur astronomers.
- Planetarium Director and Project ASTRO Director
- Office: Merion Science Center 212
- Phone: (610) 436-2788
- Email: KSchwarz@wcupa.edu
Ronald Sloto- Honorary Professor
Ron is the curator of the West Chester University mineral collection and conducts research on the mineralogy of southeastern Pennsylvania.
As a hydrogeologist, he served with the U.S. Geological Survey for 41 years. Ron's work with the U.S.G.S. included resource appraisals, groundwater and surface-water modeling, water-quality studies, and studies of radionuclides in groundwater. He extensively used borehole geophysics to understand the movement and fate of contaminates at a number of hazardous waste sites and military facilities in southeastern Pennsylvania. He was a pioneer in the use of rainfall-runoff models to assess the practicality of flood-control structures, and he developed one of the first computer models of groundwater flow in consolidated rocks. The HYSEP hydrograph-separation computer program he developed is in worldwide use. Ron conducted pre-shale gas drilling water-quality studies in areas underlain by the Marcellus Shale, including major studies in Sullivan and Wayne Counties. His recent studies also include the use of inexpensive turbidity sondes to develop accurate suspended sediment loads for stream systems. His studies have been published in over 80 reports and journal articles. Awards Ron has received include the U.S. Geological Superior Service Award, West Chester University's Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Chester County Water Resources Authority's Watershed Stewardship Award, and the Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin Samuel S. Baxter Memorial Award.
- Office: Merion Science Center 234
- Phone: (610) 436-2727
- Email: RSloto@wcupa.edu
LeeAnn Srogi, Ph.D- Professor Emerita
LeeAnn Srogi, Ph.D
Dr. LeeAnn Srogi grew up in suburban Detroit, and her earliest memories include picking out interesting stones and fossils - now she teaches the "minerals and rocks" classes in the department. She came east for college and received her B.S. in Geology from Yale University (1977) and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Pennsylvania (1988), where her Ph.D. dissertation was on the igneous and metamorphic rocks of the Wilmington Complex, Delaware, with Dr. Mary Emma Wagner. She taught at Penn, Smith College, and Ohio Wesleyan University before joining the WCU faculty in 1991. She is always interested in stimulating new ways of teaching about minerals and rocks: beyond "rock-in-a-box!" Her current research collaborations with faculty and students include the geology and tectonics of the Morgantown Sheet; the metamorphic and tectonic history of the Wissahickon Formation; and how values, emotions, and attitudes shape student learning. She has published articles in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, American Journal of Science, the Journal of Geoscience Education, as well as field guides and papers in special volumes on Appalachian magmatism and tectonics. Her non-rock interests include music (many kinds but especially classical and jazz), reading, cooking, films, nature hikes, and gardening with native plants to provide habitat for birds and insects.
- Office: Merion Science Center 225
- Phone: (610) 436-2721
- Email: LSrogi@wcupa.edu
Russell Losco-Adjunct Professor
Courses Taught: Introduction to Geology, Humans and the Environment, Fundamentals of Soil, Soil Judging, Soil Classification
Russell Losco is a licensed Professional Geologist and a Certified Professional Soil Scientist, with over 35 years of experience in the private sector. He is the co-owner of Lanchester Soil Consultants, Inc. and is also an adjunct professor of Earth Science at Delaware County Community College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/archaeology and a master’s degree in geosciences. His consulting soil consulting work and research has stretched from Alaska to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Peru. He is the lead author of The Traveler’s Guide to the Geology of Costa Rica, the PAPSS Manual for Soil Investigation in Pennsylvania and co-author of a chapter in the book Soils and Human Health. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists and the Pennsylvania Association of Professional Soil Scientists and currently serves on the Council of Soil Science Examiners and the Pennsylvania Soil Certification Board. He is the creator and producer of the Podcast “A Poorly Sorted but Well-Rounded Series”, a production of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists. His research includes soil genesis, periglacial features and plastic in soils.
- Office- Merion Science Center 204
- Email : firstname.lastname@example.org